Embrace the Core Values to Keep Thanksgiving Relevant
Thanksgiving, which commemorates part of Pilgrim’s history, remains a favorite holiday for many Americans. And for good reasons beyond just enjoying a feast.
Our nation is going through troubled times; Definitely worth revisiting Pilgrim’s five significant achievements, who created America’s seminal story, revealing remarkable insight into who we are and the qualities of character we need to overcome our contemporary challenges.
First, of the many settler groups that came to America, only the Pilgrims were singularly motivated by a spiritual quest for religious freedom—a quest that had its origins in the Protestant Reformation a century before.
Pilgrims viewed their journey to the New World as an escape from tyranny to freedom, likening themselves to God’s chosen people – the Israelites – who overcame slavery and abuse in Egypt to make their way to the Promised Land.
Similar to the exodus of the Israelites, the Pilgrims had left what they saw as oppressive and morally corrupt authorities in Britain and Europe, to create a new life in America.
Thanksgiving could be considered the holiday that made other American holidays possible. Without the courage of the Pilgrims; an absolute faith in their cause and their vocation; and a willingness to sacrifice – risk everything – they would never have boarded the 94ft Mayflower — a vessel whose seaworthiness is doubtful.
Without their faith and determination to find freedom of conscience and to live by their biblical beliefs, there may never have been a 4th of July or other subsequent American holidays.
The Mayflower would be carried by the wind from its intended destination in the established territory of the Colony of Virginia, to the wild of Cape Cod.
Thus, the Pilgrims did not know where they were or how to proceed. They desperately needed a suitable place with fresh water and fertile soil to establish a new and independent regulation.
The secular The Mayflower passengers eventually became not only restless, but also insolent. It was then that the Pilgrims made their second major achievement shape the future of what America would be.
Pilgrim leaders John Carver, William Bradford and William Brewster recognized that the passengers of the Mayflower, diverse as they were, had to maintain their unity to survive in a potentially inhospitable environment. Thus, they drafted a guiding document acceptable to both their Christian brethren and the secular crewman, and merchant adventurers.
The resulting “Mayflower Compact” ensured peace, security and equality for all in their intended settlement.
With every man aboard signing the Mayflower Compact, the Pilgrims for the first time laid the foundations for democratic self-rule based on the will of the people.
The Covenant laid the cornerstone of our American Constitution.
While all the Pilgrims survived the ship’s squalid and cramped quarters during the dangerous crossing, once the passengers of the Mayflower settled in “New Plymouth”, Massachusetts in December 1620, they encountered a devastating winter, along with sickness which afflicts most of the pilgrims and the death of more than half, including four families.
The fate of the Pilgrim settlers might have been more difficult had they not settled where they settled, alongside the friendly natives of the Pokanoket Indian Village who were part of the Wampanoag tribe. And if they hadn’t befriended two who could providentially speak broken English – Squanto and Samoset – perhaps neither would have survived.
Squanto and his fellow native tribesmen taught the pilgrims survival skills: hunting, fishing, planting crops – of various vegetables – varieties unknown to the English.
The pilgrims’ third major achievement was the Pilgrim-Wampanoag Peace Treaty signed on April 1, 1621 by the chiefs of the colonies Massasoit and Plymouth.
It was a remarkable achievement, lasting over 50 years – longer than subsequent peace treaties made by other colonizing groups with native Indian tribes.
The fact that there were bloody conflicts between other settlers and tribes, such as the Pequot War fought in Connecticut in 1636-1637, makes the Pilgrims stand out.
They succeeded in maintaining the most lasting and equitable peace between natives and immigrants in the history of our country.
Although they learned from the native Indians how to plant, cultivate and harvest new crops during their first year, the Pilgrims complied with their Virginia Company sponsorship charter which called for the farmlands of the colony are owned and worked in common and that the crops are shared equally. But this socialist approach to common property created disincentives to work. William Bradford recalled that “the slackers showed up late for work…everyone was happy to claim their equal share…and the output only dwindled.”
Although no one is certain of the exact date of the first Thanksgiving, we know that it was an initiative of the pilgrims, celebrated in November 1621 to give thanks to God for their survival and for the first meager harvest.
When Massasoit was invited to join the Pilgrims, it was assumed that he would bring no more guests than the approximately 50 surviving Pilgrims’ hosts. Massasoit arrived with twice that number, well supplied with food, poultry and game of all kinds – including five stags.
The first celebration of Thanksgiving will last three days, punctuated by Indian songs, games and dances, pilgrim prayers and even a military parade by Myles Standish.
The pilgrims fourth major achievement was the rejection of socialism and the embrace of private enterprise. After the poor Thanksgiving harvest, the second season of collective farming and distribution proved equally disappointing.
Governor Bradford had seen enough, recording that the system “has been found to engender much confusion and discontent and delay many employments which would have been for their benefit and comfort”. Thus, before the 1623 season, he abandoned socialist agriculture and replaced it with private ownership of land for each family. By becoming responsible for their own welfare and gaining the freedom to choose what to grow for consumption or trade, the productivity of the Pilgrims increased.
The fifth factor what distinguished the pilgrims was their pattern of relational behavior.
While tolerance allowed them to maintain relative harmony within their diverse community, they also looked outward to serve and help others.
In March 1623, Massasoit was on the verge of death from an unknown illness.
Edward Winslow, Elder of the Chief Pilgrim, immediately set out on a 40-mile journey to administer medicinal broth, natural herbs and prayers to Massasoit.
Amazingly, he made a full recovery, expressing his gratitude for the help he received.
The achievements of the Pilgrims and the qualities of character that made them exemplary are more relevant today than ever. A contemporary Thanksgiving makeover could include: rekindling a quest for adventure; develop the faith to hold on to a vision of a promised land no matter what; muster the courage to stand up to the crowd and stand up for the truth; gaining the resolve to endure difficulties; revitalize respect and tolerance for people of different beliefs; rejuvenate a joyful willingness to sacrifice for others; and renewing the readiness to extend love, assistance, and gratitude at every appropriate opportunity.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
Scott S. Powell, principal investigator at the Discovery Institute, is the author of “Rediscovering America”, a new version in the historical genre. You can reach him at [email protected] Read Scott S. Powell’s reports – More here.
© 2022 Newsmax. All rights reserved.